Friday, February 22, 2013

In the [Sleepless] Art Studio

It's been a rough couple of weeks in our home.  Our sweet boy appears to be going through a growth spurt, sleep regression, and teething all at once, poor thing.  So there have been few naps and lots of wakeful nights, and not too much of anything else.  I think he takes after his mama in his aversion to sleep.  Why sleep when there's so many other options?  ;) 

But even though there hasn't been very much rest for anyone around here lately (and even though it's hard being so tired, I wouldn't trade it for the world), I've still managed to find a few minutes here and there for some refreshing art sessions.  Here's what's been going down . . .

Soft pastel portrait (so dusty, but so much fun!): 
pastel attempt 

Stabilo pencil + soft pastel + gesso on cardboard (in progress): 
in progress 

Acrylic paint on mixed media paper (in progress): 
{in progress} 

A new Not Forgotten creation (possibly my favorite yet! but then I say that every time . . .):
Joel with name 

What have you been making in your studio/kitchen/digital space/workshop/sewing room/community/heart/mind?

Also, tell me -- are these more realistic creations something you'd like to see more of in my art shop?  Or do you prefer my usual, more whimsical + stylized art?

 linking up with:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Learning How to Die {Lent 2013}

ash wednesday quotes

I am realizing, as the new Lenten season broadens around us, that my fears, my uncertainties about who this God I gave my heart to is really, that they're about dying.

Dying to myself and my selfishness, to what I want or think I want or think I deserve or think I am owed (dangerous ground).  

And nobody wants to do any dying of any kind, because death is hard and scary and out of our control.  

Death hurts. 

But as I read words of Lent (courtesy of Brandy), I begin to wonder -- maybe it's not a matter of if I have to die to my gathering of comforts and safety, but when.  

We were not made for death, but the right kind of dying is the only thing that can save us, I think.

Joan Chittister writes in The Liturgical Year:

"'If you want to be my disciple, follow me,' we hear the voice of Jesus say in the Scriptures of commitment (Matt. 16:24, paraphrase).  And we find ourselves in that long, unending procession of those across time who have set out to walk to the Jerusalem of their own lives with the Jesus who shows us all how to go there."

Maybe the dying, the walking to our individual Golgotha daily and yearly and over a lifetime -- maybe that's the point.  

Because if we call our selves Jesus followers, don't we have to follow in Jesus' footsteps?  And where else was he ever aimed but the cross?

It's so easy, here in America, to believe that the point of life -- the point of my life -- is to be comfortable.  To be happy.

But Jesus, was he ever comfortable?

ash wednesday quotes

Because if comfort is the point, then what of the uncountable souls around the globe who are anything but?  Who believe in spite of slavery and disease and poverty and starvation and homes with only the earth for a floor?  What of those who live in the peace and joy of God without any of the peace and joy of earth?

Their stories shame me.  And inspire me. 

And challenge me to consider, even though my daughter is dead and everything else that is precious to me is so precariously uncertain, how I might die to my self and pass my heart over to God again and again and again.

Because that's what he wants, I think.  Hearts, whole and abandoned, so that he may fill them more than we ever could on our own.

"Lent requires me, as a Christian, to stop for a while, to reflect again on what is going on in me.  I am challenged again to decide whether I, myself, do truly believe that Jesus is the Christ -- and if I believe, whether I will live accordingly when I can no longer hear the songs of angels in my life and the star of Bethlehem has grown dim for me. . . .
"Lent is the period in which, learning to abstain from adoring at the shrine of the self, we come to see beyond the divinity we have made of ourselves to the divine will for all the world."

~ Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year

What do I know?  Still not very much.  Only that my white knuckled grip on all that I love serves no one and saves nothing, including my self.  

Even though it scares me, I will try to give up the illusion of control I so desperately cling to, and wait for God to heal the wounds of fear and loss with his perfect love.  I must try to remember that unlike my two cent vending machine prayers that purchase nothing, this is an exchange that is worth, I think (I hope), everything.

"Ash Wednesday is a continuing cry across the centuries that life is transient, that change is urgent.  We don't have enough time to waste on nothingness.  We need to repent our dillydallying on the road to God.  We need to repent the time we've spent playing with dangerous distractions and empty diversions along the way. . . .  We need to get back in touch with our souls. . . .

"[This] is about our rising to the full stature of human reflection and, as a result, accepting the challenge to become fully alive, fully human rather than simply, grossly, abysmally, self-centeredly human."

~ Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year

ash wednesday quotes

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Prayer for Lent {Lent 2013}

So, I say to God as we lay in bed, my baby and I, nursing at ten minutes to midnight on the first of forty Lenten days.

I know you're not a vending machine - I don't put my two cent prayer in and get a candy bar nugget of truth right back, easy peasy. 

I know you're not like that. Nothing can be bought or earned with you. I get that. I get that that's part of the glory.

But I thought you value relationship. And here's the thing - when I talk to my husband, my treasure and trusted friends and family, it's not a one way conversation. It's a relationship, and the conversation flows between us.

I want it to be like that between you and I, God. I want to hear you. And feel you and taste you and see you. I want you to be my everything, and be everything to my husband and son.

But how can that be if we - I - can't hear you?

I want to hear you, Daddy.

And I don't.

It feels like I'm talking at a brick wall, inserting my two cent prayer into the cosmic vending machine and what comes back doesn't feel very nourishing.

Isn't it supposed to be better than this? Isn't your Presence supposed to be present?

I want more. I want more you. The real you.

Am I talking foolish? Do I know not what I say? I hope I'm not getting myself into hot water . . . but to be honest, the spiritual puddle I'm sitting in feels pretty lukewarm, so maybe a little heat is okay (I say, cringing, waiting for the lightning bolt).  But I want to be honest.

Where has my faith gone?

We need you, here in this house of brittle hearts. I need you.

I believe you hold each of us in the palm of your hand. But I wish I could feel the folds of your flesh tight around my bones.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Awarded (Let's Have Some Fun, Okay?)

It's been very serious here on the blog lately.  Real and honest, yes, but still serious.  So here's a little fun: Jen and RaeAnne both gave me for a Liebster Award.  Thank you, sweet ladies!

Here's a little about the Liebster Award:

This blog award is granted to up and coming bloggers with fewer than 200 followers who deserve some recognition and support to keep on blogging. What is a Liebster?  Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.
Here are the rules:
1. Answer the questions sent to you by your nominator.
2. Pick 11 blogs to nominate.
3. Write 11 questions for them to answer.

How fun is that?

Okay, so let's get cracking on these questions, because Jen and RaeAnne nominated me quite some time ago, and my response is late.  First I will answer the questions they asked, and then I will reveal my own nominees and questions for those bloggers.

The Answers

What is your favourite memory of the time you spent with your baby?
With Eve, my favorite memory is of my husband picking her up and "flying" her across the room to me, making airplane sounds.  It was so beautiful, and so heartbreaking, knowing that he'd never be able to show his daughter what a loving dad he is.  

With our rainbow, it's every single second.  Well, except when he's not napped in a week and we're both cranky.  But even that's pretty good, knowing what the alternative is.
Do you have any resources you would recommend to a new BLM?
Yes -- you can check them out here.  And don't miss my free ebook for babylost parents with ideas on remembering your lost child.

How long have you been married?

Five and a half(ish) years.
What is your favourite place to travel to?
We don't travel much on account of my husband's chronic pain, but I lived in New Zealand for a semester and I'd love to go back.  I also went to Malaysia on a missions trip a few years back, and hope to visit again.  Other places on my travel dream list are: Hawaii, anywhere in Europe (especially the Mediterranean), India, the Philippines (to visit my sponsored Compassion child) . . . the list goes on, but I'll stop there.  :)
If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?

Set my family up to be debt-free and help people.  I mean, if I had ALL the money in the world, I could fix a lot of things, right?  I could help end hunger, poverty, animal homelessness and euthanasia, third world orphans, the AIDS epidemic, the lack of clean water in third world countries . . .  If I had no limits on money (and power) I would do everything I could.  

What reminds you of your baby?

I'm guessing this means Eve, so: the color purple, lilacs, the colors rose pink and purple together, sparrows, the songs "Beautiful Things" by Gungor and "I Will Carry You" by Selah.

What is your favourite season and why?
Fall and spring!  Both my children were born in the fall, I love the sense of both excitement and coziness that's in the air as the leaves begin to turn and the weather turns cold and I can start wearing sweaters.  And I love spring because it's so refreshing to wear flip flops and feel the sun warm on my skin after our long Montana winters.

What is your favourite colour?
I have to pick just one?!  Purple, turquoise . . .  purple and turquoise together . . . anything bold and bright. 
Where do you live?
Big Sky Country (meaning, Montana)

What do you do  (or will you do) to honour your baby on their birthday?

This is what I (and you!) did for Eve's first birthday.  It's too soon for me to start thinking about next year yet.
What is your biggest wish for 2013?
That I would be the very best mother to our rainbow son that I can be.  That God would make what I have to give into more than enough.  That I would boldly challenge anxiety.  That I would be here now.
What do you love the most about your baby/ies?
Eve: that she lived.  That I knew her, a little.  That she was ours, for a while.  That she is God's.
 Our rainbow: that he lives.  That he is himself.  That he is ours, for a while.  That he is God's, even though that scares me
What character from a book would you like to meet (even fictional ones)? Why?
Again, I have to pick only one?!  ;)  I'd love to meet Jo March from Little Women, both Bastian and Atreyu from The Neverending Story, Triss from Divergent, because they are all strong and brave and scared and and broken. 
If someone could bring you a meal right now, what would it be?
Authentic Indian anything with garlic naan.

What is the best thing someone has said to you after your loss?
I can't remember the specific phrasing, but I loved it when people were honest and said that they didn't understand, that they were sad, that they would remember with me.  And they have remembered, and that means everything.

What's your favorite song/book/movie?

Here are many of my favorite books.  I have movie and song favorites on my Blogger profile.  I particularly love music that moves my body and ignites my emotions.  But there are too many favorites to list them all! 

Who do you admire most?

My husband.  We've been through a lot together, and he's been through a lot on my account, and yet he somehow still loves me with a sacrificial, Christ-like, redeeming love -- a love that builds me up and thinks the best of me and never gives up and makes me better.

What's one thing you wish people knew about you?
I long to be so much braver than I am.  

What's the best date night you and your spouse/partner ever had?

This past Mother's Day.  Well done, husband.  Well done.

If you could redo your wedding day, what would you change/what would you keep?

I would keep everything as it was except my eating disorder.  I wish we could get married again, now that I'm healthy.  Our engagement, wedding, and first year+ of marriage were robbed of their joy by my eating disorder.

The Questions (nominees, you answer these on your own blogs . . . can't wait to check them out!)
  1. What does a day in the life of you look like?
  2. What is one of your favorite words?  Why?
  3. What nourishes your soul?  Or, what are you passionate about?
  4. What is your favorite way to express yourself?
  5. What makes you really angry?
  6. What fills you with joy?
  7. What is one thing you love about yourself (quick, don't over think it)? 
  8. Do you celebrate Lent?  If so, what do you plan on doing this year?
  9. What are you hungry for, right now?
  10. What is your favorite Easter or Valentine's Day candy? 
  11. Coffee, tea, or neither?
Thanks for being awesome, friends!  And that awesomeness is not restricted to the eleven nominees . . . I'd love to read your answers, too, lovely readers.  There are so many more wonderful bloggers, both big and small, that I read that I wanted to tag!

 p.s. forgive the formatting issues on this post . . . I've tinkered and can't figure it out, so wonky it shall stay, instead of wasting my son's precious little naptime on it.  ;) 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

This is What I Know (And It's Not Much)


I have to admit - I haven't been writing much because I don't know what to say.

Because I am struggling.

Yes, with anxiety. Yes, with typical-if-unfortunate mama guilt, I'm-not-doing-this-good-enough guilt.

But above those mostly expected things arches something I did not expect: that I am struggling with God. With trusting him.

After Eve died, of course there were questions. Of course. But I brought them to God and I felt like he used my questions to draw me closer. And I learned to trust him again.

But now, I am finding that same trust in that same everlasting God very hard.

Because what if he's going to ask more of me than my first baby? How can I trust him after she died inside my own body, where I thought it was safe, and now my son has my heart beating in his hands and how can I be okay with it if God wants more?

And the funny thing is that I can't stop believing in God. Where else can I go? There is no other Name than his for me.

And yet . . . even though I believe, I fear pouring my whole life out to him. I fear obeying him. I fear opening up my hands to let him give or take.

There is an eternity of ways your child could die. Every parent knows this. But babylost parents . . . well, we know it better than most because we have lived [at least] one of those ways.

As my friend Nat wrote when i posted about my God struggles in a Facebook group we're both in, it's hard to trust God when you have learned the hard way that doing so does not mean that everything will turn out okay.

He's not a tame lion.

And I should already know this, because the Bible promises - promises! - hardship and suffering, and how badly do I have it, really, when there are people living without clean water, when women and children are being bought and sold as if they were playthings?

But it hurt to lose my baby girl, and it hurts still, and my hands are closed around the ones I cherish even though I know the only true way to keep them safe is to open my palms wide and let them go. I know I can't keep them closed much longer, because I am seeing that they are not protecting my loved ones but instead are closed tight around my own neck and it's getting damned hard to breathe in here.

But I am afraid.

So what to do? I can't turn away from God, but I am afraid to let him all the way back in, too.

Here, I will be bold and not sugarcoat or shy away from the fact that I. don't. know.

But . . . I do know that I will take this fear, this not-knowing to God, too, and hope that he can make something lovely out of all this ugliness. Because even though I am so afraid, my soul yearns and yearns for his sacred touch,

This is what I know. I know it's not much, but it's something.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In the Art . . . Studio?

17 weeks
4 months old already?!

There's no question that a newborn brings all sorts of new chaos and messiness into his parents' lives.  Our sweet guy is no exception -- the mountain of unfolded laundry looms ever higher, the house needs a good dusting and scrubbing, and our kitchen table's surface hasn't seen the light of day in months. 

And I'm so glad.  So, so glad.  Because that laundry is unfolded because instead my son is folded into my arms.  The house isn't so clean because I'm watching him learn and grow before my very eyes.  And the kitchen table?  Half of the things on there have to do with him.  

I'm very serious about the business of watching the miracle blossoming of our son's life.  Besides, I never have been very good at the housewifery. 
But there is one thing I've been missing, and that's a dedicated spot to get creative.  In the past, my "studio" has been our kitchen table (see above for why that's no longer it), a table in our living room, the same table moved into our spare bedroom (a.k.a. the baby's room), and, most recently, a small desk in our bedroom.  

The problem is that Baby Boy (when we manage to con him into sleeping for a bit -- he's a dedicated nap resister) snoozes in a couple of different spots in the house.  Between that and just a general lack of free space, there is no place for my art-making to call home.  So right now, my art "studio" has been: our bed, the recliner, the floor (I may or may not have stained the living room carpet with my pastels this week).

Here's what I've been up to in my "studio," spurts of creative messiness snuck in between the joys and sacred struggles of mamahood . . .


Oil pastel attempt

soft pastel intuitive drawing

charcoal portrait


That is to say, a bunch of work on Misty Mawn's Face To Face With Art portraits course, and new Not Forgotten angel baby drawings.  Studio not required.  ;)

linking up with: